Myth #8: NB is wrong to say ‘No’ to shale gas development while taking equalization payments from other provinces.
‘Equalization’ simply means that citizens, no matter where they live, are entitled to comparable public services at comparable rates of taxation. For example, people in a poor rural area should legitimately expect to have access to similar government services as those in a wealthy city. The provision of this principal of equality is enshrined in our Constitution.
Equalization is a national program funded by everyone’s federal tax money, largely collected from ‘have not’ provinces (which include Ontario and Quebec), containing the bulk of the population and the national tax base. People in “have-not” provinces are also contributors to equalization. The “have provinces” do not write an “equalization cheque” every year to “have not” provinces.
Equalization payments are also independent of the policy choices of the provinces. They are not charity nor do they come with a moral obligation to mimic the decisions of other provinces. For example, British Columbia imposed a permanent ban on uranium mining, yet Saskatchewan supports the industry. These are both ‘have’ provinces. Which province’s decision should be the moral guide for New Brunswick’s choice on shale gas? This argument is simply an attempt to sway people by making them feel inadequate or guilty, and is without merit.